Column: Immunization fail

Compared to rest of interior, Kootenay Boundary ranks at bottom

Trisha Shanks

Arrow Lakes News

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the average rate for a British Columbia two year old to be up-to-date on vaccines has varied from 65 per cent to 71 per cent. In the interior, the Kootenay Boundary rate is only 57 per cent.

Vaccinations are a controversial topic — of that there is no doubt. There are camps both for and against administering inoculation to children, which normally begins at the age of eight weeks.

A child routinely receives vaccinations beginning at two months of age and on a regular basis until they are six, according to a document available on the Interior Health website, BC Routine Immunization Schedule. It lists up to 25 vaccinations and boosters available to infants and children up to age six and then additional immunizations that are offered in Grade 6 and Grade 9. Shots are given at appointments or in school.

Immunizebc.ca lists five reasons for vaccinating: “Vaccines save lives, deadly diseases still pose a risk, travel can spread diseases quickly, vaccines are safe and effective, and vaccines protect everyone.”

Dr. Sue Pollock, medical health officer with Interior Health agrees. “We are seeing an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. Before these vaccines are put on the market, there are extensive clinical trials and we continue to monitor their safety.”

Measles was thought to be eradicated in 2002, according to the World Health Organization, yet it’s been making a comeback. Pollock says that thanks largely to the vaccines’ effectiveness, people have been able to forget how severe and deadly these diseases can be.

She cites fear around autism and misinformation for the low adherence. “There is so much access to information, but there is a lot of misinformation on vaccines and their safety. Vaccines are safe and reliable and there is good, solid scientific research to back that up.”

Many parents are relying on “herd immunity” in order to keep their children from getting vaccinations because under this theory, the unvaccinated are protected from disease thanks to those who get their shots.

 

However, Pollock says, “In order for community immunity to be effective, more than 90 per cent of the population has to be vaccinated,” and not vaccinating should only be a consideration for those who cannot be immunized such as infants and people who are immune-compromised.